When we see the meat at the supermarket, it is typically not marked as grass fed, grass finished, or pasture raised. If it is, it’s usually in it’s own section. Then may or may not see one of the three labels. So what’s the difference? First off, pasture raised means just that. The meat is not caged, and treated more humanely. But this does not mean it is grass fed beef, or grass finished, it is only about the beef’s environment. So, you could have pasture raised, grain fed meat. Why? read on…
Grass Fed Beef
Beef is grass fed because it is the natural food that they eat. Grains are not at all what the cattle would eat on it’s own & in it’s natural habitat. But grass fed doesn’t always mean 100% grass fed. When the meat is marked as grass fed, it means that at some point in it’s life, it was fed grass, but not necessarily in it’s entirety. Farmers may choose to do this because the grass fed beef is leaner, and has less marbling, so feeding some corn or grain makes the animal have more fat, and in turn, more marbling, which makes for a tender cut.
Grass Finished Beef
Beef that is grass finished, is fed grass throughout it’s entire lifespan, the diet is finished with grass. It doesn’t get more natural than this. The priority of grass finished beef is to keep things as they should be. When beef is grass finished, it’s simply leaner and healthier. For example, grass finished beef has lots of antioxidants. Glutathione can get rid of free radicals, and superoxide dismutase & catalase work together to protect cells from radical attack. When beef is fed corn, it does not have the same healthy benefits.
If flavor is more a priority than nutrition for your beef, it really is personal preference. So if you’re looking for the marbling, you many not want the grass finished beef. On the other hand, you may prefer the stronger flavor offered by cattle fed with a natural, grass finished diet. And if you don’t have much of preference in general, you may want to decide based on the cut of meat. Grass fed/finished ground beef is full of flavor, and with less fat, it’s a great way to get all the best of beef. On the other hand, if you’re making a pot roast, you may want the marbling done by a diet that has included grain.
Now that we see the difference in grass fed, grain fed, and grass finished beef, we can make more informed decisions based on our own personal preference. And one thing that is a fact-local, pasture raised is always the way to go! See for yourself with Sage Mountain Farms beef right here.
For more on the health benefits of grass fed beef, visit Eat This, Not That.